Being Selfish Isn’t Always a Bad Thing.

Being Selfish Isn’t Always a Bad Thing.

Choosing to move across the world was the first completely selfish decision I have ever made.  It was the first time that I really didn’t care what other people thought about my choices.  I didn’t think about how my leaving would affect my friends, my niece and nephew, my mom, or my dog.  My only concern was how this move would impact me.  I was sick of living in regret and fear and I knew the only way to get out of my rut was to take this leap of faith and move abroad.  It did not matter to me at that moment in my life who was affected.

I had very limited expectations of what I was going to experience.  All I knew was that I was going to be a teacher, but I did not know where in Thailand I would be or what grade I would be teaching.  I could have ended up down south, up north, or in Bangkok but I ended up in the center of the rural northeastern region known as Isan in the small town of Phayakkaphum Phisai at the primary school of Anuban Iam Sook.  I did not know how my initially introverted personality was going to fit in to this town.  I did not know if and how I was going to make any friends.

I realized very quickly into my stay that I had nothing to worry about.  I had natural curiosity to learn everything I could about the Thai culture and Phayak had an interest in knowing what a foreigner was doing in their town.  From the very beginning it was a match made in heaven!  The town opened up to me and embraced me quickly once they realized that my only purpose in their town was to teach their children and to learn their culture.  Walking to and from the market each day I smile hearing students both from Iam Sook and those from other schools yell out “Teacher Tracy” and ask me how I am doing.  Vendors at the market know me by name and what I like to order.  Store owners smile when I walk in the door.  It is a great feeling every day, but those are superficial interactions with people on the street.

What I never imaged when I moved to Thailand was the true and genuine friendships I would make here and the impact it would have on myself and them when it comes time for my departure.  I have friendships here that are identical to my friendships at home.  Friends that I can sit around for hours and laugh with while sipping beer.  Friends that I can share news with both good and bad.  Friends that will take me to the doctor when I am bit by a mysterious bug that causes my lips to instantly swell at night.  Friends that I know I can count on for anything.  Throughout this year we have all learned that speaking the same language is just one small part of a friendship.  We have the power of “google translate” to help us fill in the missing words when needed.  What we have all learned is that the most important part of friendship is being there for each other in any situation.  This past Sunday I was eating lunch  with my friends Pi Nok, Pi Fon and Lin.  We were chatting and laughing and then Teacher Lin shows me her cell phone and on google translate it says “destiny” and Pi Nok shows me her cell phone with the word “fortune.”  They were telling me that destiny and good fortune brought us together and I could not agree more.  Nothing else could explain how I ended up here in Phayakkaphum Phisai.  Destiny and good fortune.

Yesterday I booked my flight home to America.  I will be returning to Minnesota on January 18, 2017.  I am feeling so many mixed emotions right now.  Although it is still seven months away it seems so near.  Reality is starting to hit that this home I have built and the friends I have made is all about to be nothing more than fond memories and stories I will be able to pass down.  Nobody back home will ever be able to relate to the exact experience I am having now.  People may have similar stories about their travels abroad, but nothing will be able to compare to mine.  I have not traveled abroad, I have lived abroad.  I know, however, that even after I return to Minnesota I will always be able to come home to Phayakkaphum Phisai.

Being here as made me realize that it is ok to be selfish sometimes.  It is ok to do things just for me.  Moving abroad has transformed me into a person I always dreamt of being.  A person I would have never discovered if I hadn’t decided to be selfish.  I am stronger than I ever knew.  I am flexible.  I am able to adapt and fit into any community I desire.  I am able to do things on my own.  I don’t need to fear living ever again.  I am ok being selfish every now and again.  I am ok being me.

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